Star Trek Discovery season 2 – An Obol for Charon review

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If last week’s episode left you cold, it’s good news: this was undoubtedly the most Star Trekky episode of Discovery yet. No prizes for guessing how we rate it, then.

By focusing on one specific threat in one specific time and place in a way that TNG and Voyager used to do so well, Discovery really nailed the Star Trek feeling in a way that pushed my nostalgia buttons. Seeing the crew come together and use their ingenuity to deal with and eventually resolve a threat of this scale is one of the most exciting things about the average Star Trek episode, and it was not lost on me that this old-school approach included a meeting. Be still my heart. I particularly loved the dynamic of Reno and Stamets, which gave off that Bones/Spock (or maybe Tuvok/Neelix) vibe without feeling entirely forced about it.

Perhaps most surprisingly, the fake-out of Saru’s death took me on a journey from “yeah, yeah, like Saru’s going to die” to “Wait, this feels like it might actually happen…” such that when it didn’t I was actively surprised. The backstory of Saru’s race and his specific journey had real pathos, and his stunned realisation at the end of the episode is sure to inspire some brilliant stories in the near future. It’d be great to see him get his sister back.

Tilly’s ongoing plotline also took another step forward, though it’s not entirely clear what happened. Presumably, she’s been transported into the Mycelial Network and we’re heading towards an explanation about why Starfleet chooses not to access it in the shows set beyond Discovery.

As for the episode’s main plot, it’ll be interesting to see if this ties into anything more. The science was shaky (when isn’t it?) but it tied nicely into Saru’s own story and the attack on the universal translator gave us a fantastic scene that ANY version of Trek could have done just as easily, but hasn’t. If you need proof that Discovery takes its subjects and audience seriously, this was it.

And hey, this one is stand-alone enough that I can imagine re-watching it. That’s rare for Discovery. Thumbs up, everyone.

Were there any Easter Eggs?

Well, anyone desperate for an explanation as to why the Enterprise doesn’t have the fancy holographic communications system Discovery (and other ships) do finally has their answer: Pike orders it to be ripped out in this episode. Flimsy continuity patches like this are great fun and are probably more likely to frustrate the people upset with Discovery rather than appease them, which makes them all the better. I hope next episode Pike is like “take down some computer screens and replace them with painting of a nebula. And install some more dials!”

The appearance of Number One, who has previously only appeared in the sliced-up version of the original Star Trek pilot used for The Menagerie (TOS 1×15-16) was a real geeky fun moment too. Let’s hope she sticks around to be a bigger character. She was, of course, originally played by Majel Barrett-Roddenberry (Gene Roddenberry’s wife) who later starred as Lwaxana Troi in TNG and as the voice of the computer in several Star Trek series.

Also this isn’t an in-universe easter egg, but what’s the OTHER connection between David Bowie and Star Trek? Bowie’s wife and widow Iman appeared in Star Trek VI as a shape-shifting alien on Rura Penthe.

What are the Unanswered Questions?

Where is Spock going? Or perhaps… is he being taken?

What happened to Tilly inside the fungus?

What will become of Saru’s people?!